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Beauty sleep – what’s in a name?

Can you really sleep yourself beautiful?  It may sound cliché, but is no accident that the phrase “beauty sleep” is such a common expression.

If you want to stay looking your best, you’d better make getting enough sleep a priority! Here’s why…


Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone,  can wreak havoc on our health if there is too much of it in our systems. This hormone is naturally broken down while we sleep. If we are not getting enough rest, our levels of cortisol rise.

High levels of cortisol contribute to an excessively oily complexion and skin breakouts. Too much of the hormone is also linked with the breakdown of collagen – vital in maintaining the skin’s elasticity. Furthermore, lack of sleep suppresses the immune system – so battling spots is even more difficult!

Poor quality sleep or a lack of sleep can cause dry and flaky skin. Sleep deprivation can promote “inflammation along with skin-barrier dysfunction, leading to a lack of hydration”.

A recent study conducted in Sweden concluded that sleep deprivation can result in an appearance “hanging eyelids, redder more swollen eyes, darker circles under the eyes, paler skin, more wrinkles and fine lines and more droopy corners of the mouth,”.  Not getting enough of that sweet beauty sleep will eventually lead to premature ageing – scary stuff!

Social Attractiveness

Another recent study conducted in Stockholm concluded that people are more likely to avoid sleepy individuals.

Interestingly, this study observed individuals suffering from partial sleep deprivation. So, we’re not taking about extreme levels of deprivation here! Rather people just getting about 4 hours a night – something which all of us find ourselves guilty of from time to time…

The study followed 25 Swedish college students who were photographed on two occasions. Once after two nights of having only four hours sleep and then again two days later after normal sleep.  The photographs were then shown to other people who were questioned on whether or not they would like to socialise with the subjects photographed.

The study revealed that people were more likely to avoid, or not be willing to socialise with the tired subjects.

Not only  are tired people more accident prone, our disease avoidance instinct hints to us that sleepy individuals are more likely to be carrying contagious illnesses.

It is also not too surprising the study found that its sleepy subjects were less inclined to socialise. Sleep deprived people are worse at registering the nuances like humour and irony in everyday interactions. So next time you’re slow getting the joke, make a note that it might be time for an early night!

Weight Gain

If you are trying to keep your weight down,  enough shut eye is just as important as your food decisions and your exercise regime.

A recent study in Uppsala revealed that the day after a bad night’s sleep, the body has higher levels of Ghrelin – the hormone responsible for telling the body to eat – and lower levels of leptin – the hormone which registers satiety. So, you’re more likely to experience hunger but not register when you are full!

Moreover, after a night of poor sleep, the participants of the study experienced between 5% and 20% reduction in their metabolism.  They also performed less physical activity and ate larger food portions (and found eating more pleasurable too).

So it really seems that counting sheep over counting calories is the way to go!

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